published Saturday, December 24th, 2011

What it's all about!

Christmas is about Christ. Or it is about nothing.

Amid the varied customs and colorful traditions of the season, there are many non-facts mixed with the very important facts. We need to know the difference.

The birth of Jesus Christ was not a "current" matter. It went back to the very beginning. Some people claim that only "seeing is believing." For many years, there were specific prophecies about the coming of the Christ child. Some believed. Some did not. But then it happened -- just as prophets, revealing God's plan hundreds of years in advance, had said.

Dec. 25

The date Dec. 25 has no special significance in itself. For more than three centuries, the birth of Jesus Christ was celebrated at various dates. The actual time of His birth has not been established.

The ancient Romans had a December feast to Saturn, a Saturnalia. About the middle of the fourth century, Bishop Liberius and Christians at Rome who wanted no part in the pagan observance began to note the birth of Jesus Christ in that period, on Dec. 25. Christians in Egypt celebrated on Jan. 6, and many of the Eastern churches still do.

It is doubted that Jesus was born in December. According to the Scriptures, the shepherds were in the fields, a common practice in summer and fall but not in December. Further, there was no room in the inn for Mary and Joseph, but the stable, probably a hollowed-out cave in a hillside, was vacant because the sheep and cattle were out grazing. That indicates an earlier month of the year.

Not 'A.D. 1'

Nor was Jesus born in "A.D. 1." A Roman monk named Dionysius Exiguus made calculations in the sixth century Anno Domini (A.D. -- "in the year of the Lord") relating the calendar to the birth of Christ. He apparently was not very good with his history and arithmetic and made an error in his calculations.

The Bible tells us that Jesus was born when Herod was king in the Holy Land. Rome was ruled by Caesar Augustus. Quirenius was governor of Syria. All of these facts of secular history indicate the time of the actual birth of Christ was somewhere between 9 B.C. and 6 B.C., a period in which a tax order went out, as the Bible relates.

Furthermore, the Bible tells that after the wise men came to Herod, he ordered the slaughter of all male children under the age of 2 in Bethlehem, a bestial effort to wipe out One Who had been prophesied would be king. History tells us that Herod died in 4 B.C., meaning the child-slaughter order preceded that date. Apparently, the birth of Jesus was within two years before the death order, since children under 2 years old were killed.

Oct. 3, 7 B.C. theory

Johannes Kepler, noted German astronomer, suggested the possibility that the birth date of Christ was Oct. 3, 7 B.C., since there was a conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in the proper position at that time to appear to the wise men as an unusually bright star. Others offer different theories.

Whatever the date, the prophecy of the coming of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of mankind is very old.

'In the beginning'

The Bible begins with Genesis 1:1: "In the beginning God ... ." And in the New Testament, in the book of John, Chapter 1, verses 1 and 14 declare, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ... and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us ... ."

What?

Many Christians are fascinated by the early prophecy contained in Genesis 3:15. Sin had entered God's creation, for the serpent (the devil) had tempted and Adam and Eve had yielded, being disobedient to God. It was in that situation that God promised the serpent: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." These unusual words have been interpreted as a promise of the defeat of sin through the virgin birth of a Savior -- the "seed" of a woman -- with the Savior inflicting a fatal wound on sin, but in the process suffering death on the cross. Sin was overcome by this payment, followed by resurrection into life.

'I shall see him'

As the children of Israel were on their exodus from Egyptian captivity, they stopped in the land of Moab, much to the chagrin of the king of Moab, who was named Balak. He looked fearfully upon the Israelites in their camp spreading over an area the size of the valley Chattanooga occupies. Faced with so many foreigners in his country, Balak called upon the prophet Balaam to curse them, offering great rewards of material things and personal prestige. But Balaam, overcoming personal temptation only through guidance by the Lord, refused to issue the curse. Instead, he spoke these words of prophecy, recorded in Numbers 24:17: "I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth."

Here is prophetic announcement that out of the line descending from Jacob would come a "Star" and a "Sceptre," indicating kingly dominion and power, referring to the star that would show the birth of Christ the King at Bethlehem.

How?

Moses was confronted with much difficulty among the children of Israel as they continued their Exodus. God had him prophesy to them about a greater One in Whom they should place their reliance, One to be of flesh, like himself. His words are recorded in Deuteronomy 18:15: "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall harken."

Who?

The great prophet Isaiah was led by God to add more specifics to the mounting prophecy that was to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Isaiah declared these things in Chapters 7:14 and 9:6: "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (meaning God with us) ... . For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

Why?

What was the purpose of all this? Isaiah described it as the defeat of the sins man himself could not overcome. Chapter 53:5-6: "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him: and with his stripes we are healed. All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."

Where?

The prophet Micah, in Chapter 5:2, even told where the miraculous birth of Christ would take place: "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel: whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."

This is a significant reference to the fact that he was not speaking of a temporal or secular ruler but of an eternal one.

When?

With these prophecies pointing the way, the people had cause for hope. But they, as we do today, turned away from God. When they obeyed God, they prospered. When they disobeyed Him, they fell. In the course of history, the people of Judah were taken into captivity by Babylonian enemies. While in exile, Daniel uttered a prophecy that indicated even the time when the Messiah, Jesus Christ, would be born.

When Jerusalem was captured, its walls and buildings were torn down. Daniel spoke of a time when the city would be raised again, and dated the coming of Christ from that time. In the King James translation of Daniel, we find references to "weeks," this being translated from a word meaning "sevens." If we read the King James version "weeks" as "sevens," we find reference to numbers of unspecified units of time (that we now recognize as years) in Daniel 9:25: "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, unto the Messiah the Prince, shall be seven sevens, and threescore and two sevens; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times."

It came to pass that when Artaxerxes ruled, he sent forth an order for the Jewish captives to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their city. And, indeed, "seven sevens" (49) plus "three-score and two sevens" (434), or a total of 483 years after that order, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, Lord and Savior, ministered in the Holy Land.

The Way

These Old Testament prophecies told the "who, what, when, where, why and how" of Christmas. And John 3:16 sums it up meaningfully: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

With the spirit of that promise, by acceptance of the gift of God through faith, everyone may find the real, happy meaning of Christmas.

16
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librul said...

... and the fork ran away with the spoon.

December 24, 2011 at 8:35 a.m.
EaTn said...

Let's all make a personal commitment to try to practice the spirit of Christmas throughout next year by sincerely caring for those close and not so close to us.

December 24, 2011 at 8:53 a.m.
conservative said...

Well done! So few newspapers today give recognition to the birth of our SAVIOR. A SAVIOR needed by all whether rich or poor, all races, all nationalities, Conservative and Lieberal, for GOD has declared in Romans 3:23 - " For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of GOD" (ESV). Salvation is available in Romans 10:9 - "because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that GOD raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (ESV).

December 24, 2011 at 9:24 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

Conservative and *Lieberal*

Way to stay within the spirit of the season. Very Christian.

December 24, 2011 at 10:30 a.m.
rumrunr said...

Dear conservative, You can"t make the broad assumption that everyone agrees with your take on the "our savior". There are many views on what Christmas means. That is what makes us truly Americans. happy holidays to all!

December 24, 2011 at 11:11 a.m.
conservative said...

Ikeithlu--

Liberalism is a LIE! It is a LIE in so many ways. As a Conservative I want to CONSERVE those moral truths, values, laws, traditions, and Biblical commandments and teaching that made America so great at one time. I use the term LIEberal because it generally seeks to overthrow that. Nearly all dictionaries use the word "change" when defining liberal. Why would anyone in their right mind want to change from what is right and works?

The biggest lie of all is atheism! GOD has revealed himself to man in Scripture. Psalm 14:1- " The fool says in his heart "there is no GOD", (ESV). Psalm 19:1- " the heavens declare the glory of GOD, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." (ESV). Day and night the atheist has to deal with the reality of a creator. They can't literally keep their eyes closed!

December 24, 2011 at 3:30 p.m.
conservative said...

rumrunr--

"Dear conservative, You can"t make the broad assumption that everyone agrees with your take on the "our savior". There are many views on what Christmas means. "

You seem to have made an attempt at constructing a strawman. "CHRISTmas is about Christ. Or it is about nothing." Matthew 1:21 is clear "She will bear a son; and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." I don't assume that everyone agrees with me on that. It is a tragic fact that scores reject the message of salvation. You don't seem to have read the article or know Scripture. I pray that you will read the book of Matthew today and learn of our savior and the story of Christmas.

December 24, 2011 at 3:41 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

dear conservative:

I never claim that liberals have all the answers or have the only way to the truth. However, without liberals we would still: a) enslave blacks b) deny women access to voting booth, workplace and control over their reproduction c) keep our kids ignorant about their bodies and what constitutes abuse, keeping them at risk d) allow businesses to exploit, mistreat and intimidate workers all for the bottom line e) pollute and rape our environment, also in the name of the bottom line. That's a short list, but they are changes that were needed, and liberals are responsible for bringing them about.

I resent being called a liar because I lean left. You have no idea who I am. Stereotypes do nothing to move people forward; they divide and mislead. No liberal or conservative I know fits the nasty stereotypes I see used here and on other sites.

No wonder folks like me don't believe in a god. If you are such a god's spokesperson I want nothing to do with it. You come across as such a hateful and judgmental creep. Is that what your flavor of Christianity promotes?

December 24, 2011 at 4:31 p.m.
conservative said...

Attacking me with false accusations really doesn't bother me, it is the most common tactic of lieberals when confronted with the truth. You only prove me correct.

Your denial, rejection and hatred of GOD is YOUR sole responsibility. You can't blame others and GOD will not accept it. If you have a SINCERE desire to know GOD, you can simply start reading the Bible and GOD will reveal his will to you. I would recommend you start with the book of Matthew and read the entire New Testament. The English Standard Version of the Bible is an excellent translation and easily read.

December 24, 2011 at 8:30 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

I made no false accusations. Your post is there for all to see.

As for my religious beliefs (or lack thereof) they are not your concern. I stand by my statement: you are a poor spokesman for your god, and do little to nothing to positively support your views.

BTW, I have read the bible, including Matthew. It changes nothing.

One last point: I cannot hate what I don't believe even exists. Sorry.

December 24, 2011 at 8:45 p.m.
HiDef said...

lkeithlu-

canaryinthecoalmine has been reincarnated and is going by the alias, 'conservative'!!! It's a Christmas miracle!

December 24, 2011 at 8:47 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

Hmmmm.... I should have recognized the seething fury and hatred... You may be right, HiDef! I've called conservative on posts before, but with no response; he/she just left the thread and went on to another. What a sad, pathetic individual.

December 24, 2011 at 8:51 p.m.
una61 said...

Once upon a time ........... and they lived happily ever after.

December 24, 2011 at 9:33 p.m.
HiDef said...

Must be his/her m.o., lkeithlu. Canary..er, I mean, Conservative bolted from a thread on me as well. I think he/she likes to bait non-believers into arguments and then just leaves without responding. Not that they'd be open-minded anyway...

December 24, 2011 at 9:52 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

I am not concerned with attacks on my lack of belief, but I do hate stereotypes. I try to call out anyone who uses them. After all, although I am a liberal, I don't collect welfare or have crack-addicted babies. Although I am an atheist, I don't eat kittens or kill babies! Nor do I try to convert anyone or belittle their beliefs. Though most of my family is conservative, they are not mouth-breathing, inbred, creationist idiots, nor are they racist, intolerant, selfish or greedy.

December 24, 2011 at 10:07 p.m.
shoe_chucker said...

and a partridge in a pear tree...

December 24, 2011 at 11:50 p.m.
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